25 Intriguing Facts About the Great Wall of China

by Rishika Jain2 years ago
Picture 25 Intriguing Facts About the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is a miraculous achievement in and of itself. For many years, dynasties and people have gone into the making of the Great Wall. It has witnessed many people die while constructing it or while invading it. However, today it is an attraction for many tourists who come from all over the world to visit the Wall. There are still many mysteries and unknown facts about the Wall that many people aren’t aware of. Let’s check 25 intriguing facts about the Great Wall of China.

1 The Great Wall is referred to as “The Long Wall” and “The Earth Dragon” in China.

The Long Wall
Image credit: Shutterstock

The Wall is generally known as “The Great Wall of China” by countries like America, France, the UK, and Germany. However, the Wall is also famous worldwide with various names like “The China Wall”,  “The 10,000-Li-Long Wall,” and in China, the Wall was referred to as “The Long Wall” (长城 Changcheng) and the “The Earth Dragon.” As the years passed, the Wall gained many names like “The Border Walls,” “The Purple Frontier,” and “The Outer Fortresses.” (source)

2 The Great Wall is the longest man-made structure with a length of 21,196.18 kilometers (13,170.7 miles)

Longest man-made structure
Image credit: Severin.stalder via Wikimedia.org

According to the National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA), the official length of the Great Wall is 21,196.18 kilometers (13,170.7 miles). It took a six-year-long archeological survey to measure the length of the Great Wall systematically and scientifically. The Wall covers over 43,721 heritage sites in 15 provinces of north China. (source)


3 The Great Wall received the title of World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.

The Great Wall of China has the most impressive architectural significance. It is the world’s largest military structure in human history. The Great Wall got its official significance when it was designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in December 1987. (source)

4 The Great Wall is not one uninterrupted long structure; it’s a series of walls distributed in different Chinese territories.

Map of China Wall
Image credit: Maximilian Dörrbecker via Wikipedia.org

Many people have the image of the Great Wall as one consistent long structure, but that isn’t true. It is instead a collection of walls. It is a defensive network consisting of a series of walls and forts constructed in different historical time gaps. The first wall was built between 680 BCE and 656 BCE. It is a 20,000-kilometer-long network of walls with some segments scattering and some running parallel. The Wall is scattered around the northern border of Ancient and Imperial Chinese territories. (source)


5 The construction of the Great Wall was started with a RUMOR!

Qin Shi Huang
Image credits: 画中的日记 via Wikimedia.org, Thomas Allom via Wikipedia.org

The emperor Qin Shi Huang is referred to as the initiator of the construction of the Great Wall. The truth is he was the first one to command the linking of the separate section built by previous states in 221 BCE. He sent a necromancer named Lu Sheng to find a way to immorality. After countless efforts, Lu finally returned with a rumor that Qin would be overthrown by the northern nomads. Qin got so frightened that he immediately issued an order to connect the walls to guard the northern border. (source)

6 Over nine dynasties and 2,300 years contributed to the construction of the Great Wall.

Great Wall of Han dynasty near Yumenguan.
Great Wall of Han dynasty near Yumenguan. Image credits: Bairuilong/Wikipedia
Ming dynasty Great Wall at Jinshanling
Ming dynasty Great Wall at Jinshanling. Image credits: Jakub Hałun/Wikipedia

For 2,300 years, many dynasties contributed to the construction of the Great Wall. Many kingdoms built, rebuilt, and extended the Wall. Qin unified the walls in 221 BCE and connected the Great Wall sections built by other states. Two dynasties, Qin and Ming, played a major role in building the longest manmade structure in history. (source)


7 Building the Great Wall was a punishment for Chinese convicts.

During the Qin Dynasty, the construction of the Wall was used as a common punishment for Chinese convicts. At that time, when there was no availability of machines, all the construction of the great wall was dependent on manpower. The regular duties of convicted criminals involved the construction, maintenance, and surveillance of the Great Wall. Crimes ranging from tax evasion to homicide were punishable with Wall construction. (source)

8 Over 400,000 died during the construction of the Great Wall.

Nine dynasties
Image credit: Herbert Ponting via Wikipedia.org

Construction of the Wall was exceedingly dangerous and tough. They had fewer resources at that time. The workers had to keep up with the harsh situations. Rocks often fell on workers injuring them or killing them. According to the scholar’s estimation, over one million people died during the construction of the Great Wall. (source)


9 The Great Wall construction led to tax rises in the country.

The massive Wall of China wasn’t free. Most importantly, when thousands of workers were working tirelessly to build the Wall, the Chinese government back then needed endless money to fund the project. At that time, Chinese emperors did everything to raise money from increasing taxes to holding lotteries. However, still, workers lived in harsh conditions and survived for days without food. In exchange, workers were exempt from heavy taxes. (source)

10 Emperor Qin Shi Huang was loathed for ordering the construction of the Great Wall.

Emperor Qin Shi
Image credit: Claudine Van Massenhove/Shutterstock

Emperor Qin Shi Huang is hated for many reasons, but most importantly he was hated for ordering the Wall’s construction. He was the first emperor of China who unified China and ordered the construction of the Great Wall of China. The Wall project caused so much misery that he was loathed for giving orders. After his death, his dynasty lasted for a few months but was quickly overtaken by the Han Dynasty. (source)


11 Sticky rice was used to build the Great Wall.

Sticky rice
Image credit: Hermann Lucker via Wikimedia.org

The Great Wall was constructed using earth, stone, bricks, and wood but it also includes a surprising ingredient that is rice. Scientists found the mortar used in the development of the Wall was “glutinous rice,” which is “sticky rice.” It was used because of its cohesive property. The amylopectin of the rice helps to keep the wall intact, and it also offers resistance to earthquakes and other elements. (source)

12 The Great Wall failed to protect China from invaders.

The main motive behind building the Great Wall was to protect the Chinese empire from the outside world. However, the Great Wall failed to protect China from invaders. Many of the country’s northern enemies managed to invade in spite of the Wall. The Mongols in 1449 and the Manchus in 1644 easily managed to attach over the barrier. The Manchus invasion led to the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. (source)

Also Read:
15 Facts About China That Will Blow Your Mind Away!

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